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Self-worth and love: It's within your grasp

Recently, I realized I have been conditioned to expect mistreatment from others. Hold on; I don't want your pity, sympathy, or guilt. It's solely a fact. At this point in my life, I learned to accept that I have been conditioned this way by society, my upbringing, and various experiences that reinforce that I am less than compared to others. Yet, I have never accepted that I am lesser than anyone. So, this brings me to today's thoughts of self-worth and love.

The ability to accept and love your true self, or self-love, comes from within you. Your self-worth, the ability to know your worth in quantity (e.g., pay from employment) and quality (e.g., within interpersonal relationships) also comes from within you.

In my circumstance, I quickly realized that all external motivators or factors (e.g., friends, family, work colleagues, peers, awards, praise, money) would not foster my sense of self-worth or love. I mostly had to pull from within myself to recognize my worthiness. I learned to love my true self in a world that repeatedly showed me that my authentic self was unacceptable.

Many people struggle with low self-esteem, self-worth, and love. They usually have some knowledge about the root causes. But they don't know how to improve it. Rather, they learn to mask or perform for different people in different environments. They want to appear confident. They seek approval or acceptance. They want to be liked or loved. To wear these masks can be exhausting, stressful, and overwhelming. Some might question my use of the word perform. Well, you are performing when you wear a mask because you're not being your authentic self. You're pretending. Then there is the problem of people not accepting or liking you with the mask. So, how do we begin to foster or improve our self-worth and love?

Number 1: It starts when you stop caring about what others think of you and what they expect. I always tell my clients that they will know when they have reached a major point of self-discovery and growth when they conclude that I don't care anymore. When you don't care about what others think and expect, you prioritize what you want and need. You then start to foster your self-worth and love. No, you're not being selfish. You are still responsible for meeting your obligations. You still are considerate and compassionate of others to consider how your actions may impact them. However, you're no longer on autopilot to do or prioritize what others tell you or what they expect you to do for their benefit.

You are now considering What's in it for me? What's the benefit or detriment to me?

Remember, one big factor about self-worth and love, you must be aware of yourself. Self-awareness, meaning knowing who you are and how you move or want to move in this world, includes identifying your wants, needs, beliefs, motivators, and values.

woman facing sideways with proud to be me highlighted on face
woman facing sideways with proud to be me highlighted on face

Number 2: Identify your wants, needs, beliefs, internal and external motivators, and values. To improve your self-love and worth, the more you know about yourself, the better. This process of self-assessment and exploration can be challenging because you might not like what you find out about yourself. What if you find out you are a people pleaser, and people take advantage of your inability to say no? What if you learn that your belief about change in your community or the world is influenced by your belief in exclusion and limiting diverse voices? What if you need constant validation from friends, family, and peers? What if you identify valuing work over spending quality time with your family? What if you value freedom to feel guilty and trapped in having young children? You may also find out things about yourself to be helpful. For example, you value family and would like to start one, but your current work culture is not family-friendly. Or you learn that you value trustworthiness and discover you have been avoiding getting married to a long-term partner because of a lack of trust. Remember, whatever you learn about yourself is part of the process. You may consider seeking a mental health professional to help you navigate this process.

Number 3: Setting and achieving short-term goals foster and increase self-love, worth, and esteem. Consider setting SMART goals you can realistically accomplish within the next three months. Ensure you take a holistic perspective to consider your whole self and different areas (i.e., social, family, financial, professional, educational, creative, environmental, leisure, physical, spiritual, mental, and identity).

Number 4: Surround yourself with positive people who will uplift and inspire you.

Weed out the fakes, phonies, those who are envious of your successes and want you to fail.

Consider if someone has repeatedly mistreated you. If there's a history, they have shown you a behavior pattern. Only a fool would disregard a pattern of behavior. We can not change others who do not want to change or who do not see the need to change with wishful thinking and hope.

Everything I said here is easier said than done. During this process of self-discovery and growth, you may feel hurt, disappointed, ashamed, guilty, angry, sad, frustrated, overwhelmed, exhausted, and more; I oscillated between these feelings, and that's ok. Remember, it's a process and you got this.



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I am a clinical mental health counselor and an educator. I have been in private practice for almost a decade. During this time, I have encountered hundreds of individuals to listen to their narratives and to help them heal in some way. Additionally, I have my own story. I hope to weave takeaways and lessons learned over the years from these interactions and from my personal life into informative and thought- provoking posts. 

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